I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino, and so is my husband. So when date night rolled around, you know we had to head to theaters and see Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Despite mixed reviews from friends and family, we went — and I am so glad we did because we both loved every single second of it.
Let me start off by saying that if you don’t love Tarantino movies, you won’t love this one. It is very true to his style: multiple story lines, lots of talking (and talking to the camera), violence (although we didn’t get that in this movie until the end), and dirty feet (gross, I know).
The acting in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood was amazing. He chose the perfect actors, I will hand that to him. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russel — those five plus sprinkle in a collection of lesser known but incredible actors and you have yourself an amazing movie. Not all of these actors got a lot of screen time, but they definitely made an impact on the movie. Oh yea, Al Pacino was in the movie too…. so many great actors, I told you.
There are many reasons why I truly love this movie — and wanted to turn right around and see it for a second time when leaving the theater.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Leonardo DiCaprio Can Act!
I cannot stress enough how amazing of an actor Leo is. I mean, we all knew this. It should come as no surprise, but WOW, he stole the show in this movie. He plays Rick Dalton, an actor who is losing popularity. He stutters sometimes. And gets nervous and mad at himself sometimes. And Leo was the perfect person to play him. When he was threatening to kill himself in the mirror after he messed up his lines on set I WAS DYING! I know that is not a place normal people should laugh, but I was. Hysterically.
There were moments where I had to question if Leo stutters and stumbles in real life — he was that convincing. One of my favorite moments in the entire film was after he finished the scene with a little girl and she tells him that was the best acting she has ever seen. You can actually see this in the trailers, but he starts crying. He is just so happy and feels appreciated and that part was great.
Bromance with Brad Pitt
While Leo was fantastic on his own, my absolute favorite thing about this movie was the bromance between Rick and his stunt double Cliff. Brad and Leo are both such phenomenal actors and to see them working side by side like this was great. They were clearly best buddies, even though Cliff is working for Rick.
It is discussed a few times that Cliff is happy to do it, and when the time comes that they know they have to stop working together, I was sad for them. Of course, they could still be friends, but it was obvious this was going to be a big lifestyle change for the two of them.
We didn’t see nearly as much of Margot Robbie playing Sharon Tate as I was hoping for. But of course she was amazing when she was on screen. The scene where she is watching herself in a movie, and soaking in the audience’s reaction, was great. I can only imagine that is how many budding actors feel when they see others enjoying their work. I kind of adored her in this movie, even though I anticipated her death around every corner.
I have seen a lot of people saying they did not like the way Bruce Lee was portrayed. I will be honest here, I was never a huge fan. Haven’t really seen much of his stuff at all. My husband, however, is the opposite. He loves Bruce Lee — and he was CRACKING UP at his scenes. He said he was absolute perfection, and it seemed like exactly how Bruce Lee would act.
I have a good friend who is also a Bruce fan, and she said the same thing. This was very true to life for him. It is well known that when on set, he was always in his character. So the scene between Bruce Lee and Cliff Booth makes absolute sense.
Charlie Manson Tie In
You probably have heard that there is a tie in to Charlie Manson in this movie. And there was, of course. But it wasn’t as much, or as deep, as I thought it would be. The main story line is about Rick and Cliff — and there is a much smaller story line about Sharon and Charlie (well, Charlie’s followers, really). And I am totally OK with that because of the way they were tied together; it really worked for me.
I know this was a bit of a complaint with some friends who saw it, but I genuinely enjoyed it. And it seemed like everyone around me in the theater did as well. Seeing a little bit of his followers, and their mindset, was all we really needed. I believe we only saw Charlie himself once, when he walked up to Sharon’s home, looking for his friends that had moved.
If you are looking for a lot of violence, and killing, and manipulation, you won’t get it in this movie. It is not about Charlie Manson. It is not even really the true story. Bits and pieces, sure, but it is a story (hence the Once Upon A Time…).
Love for Walt Disney
Throughout the movie there were a few things that stuck with me. One was the fact that a little girl actor was reading a Walt Disney biography on set. She ranted and raved about how he was ahead of his time, and a brilliant man. If you know anything about me, you know that I am a massive Disney fan, so this was pretty awesome for Tarantino to include. And it made me happy.
That Ending Though…
That ending kind of blew my mind. It was totally different than what I expected — and I loved it. There was such a build up and then… it was better than I ever could have imagined. I was laughing, I was gasping, my head was spinning with questions. Everyone else in the theater was reacting the same. And when the credits rolled we all kind of just sat there for a minute. Soaking it in. Tarantino is a genius.
Fair warning, there are major spoilers for the ending ahead. Four of Charlie’s followers are on their way to kill Sharon and her friend. Rick Dalton is her neighbor, and they end up in an altercation with him. They decide that movies and television taught them to kill, and they should kill those that did that to them. So they decide to break in to Rick’s home. At this point a VERY high Cliff is in the process of feeding his very well trained dog. Rick’s new wife is sleeping, and Rick is in his pool with headphones on.
Cliff, being the stunt man that he is, decides to fight back. Hard. His dog attacks the kids (which was amazing), and so does he. We see one girl being hit in the face with a can of dog food and another having her head beaten against the fireplace. But my favorite part of the ending? One of the girls makes it outside, bloody face and all — and Rick grabs his flame thrower and torches her. Yes. HIS FLAME THROWER.
Anyone who can make an entire audience crack up during a violent scene like that, deserves some kind of award.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a must see movie for anyone who is a Tarantino fan. If you want a narrator telling a story, laughs, and violence, this is the movie for you. And it is more than worth it to see it on the big screen. Yes, it is a nearly three hour movie, but time flew by for me. I was genuinely surprised when I realized the film was coming to an end, as I thought there was at least an hour left to go.
True to Tarantino fashion, there were a lot of feet. When Margot Robbie was in a theater watching a movie, she had her bare feet up over the chairs in front of her (ew). And then at one point Pussy Cat is in the car with Cliff and she has her feet pressed against the window. We also see Squeaky’s feet while she is watching TV. But really, this didn’t take away from the movie for me one bit, I guess I am used to it with Tarantino.
Still, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is absolutely brilliant. It might not be what you expect, but any movie that can make you laugh that hard at pure violence, deserves an award.
About Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple story lines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.